|CD Cover||CD Back||CD Tray|
|CD Cover Inside||CD 1 Label||CD 2 Label|
Sirens On The Rooftops
January 28th 1975
Civic Plaza Assembly Hall, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
|Tony Banks||Keyboards & Vocals|
|Phil Collins||Drums, Percussion & Vocals|
|Peter Gabriel||Lead Vocals, Flute, Oboe & Percussion|
|Steve Hackett||Lead Guitars & Effects|
|Mike Rutherford||Bass Guitars, Guitars & Vocals|
When Genesis released 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' in 1974, it was undoubtedly a gamble for the band. A double concept album built around an obscure storyline wasn't going to help make the commercial breakthrough they desperately needed any easier. As Tony Banks explained at the time: “We were hesitant about putting out a double album, especially a concept album. The songs are related but they stand up separately as well. You could listen to a few tracks on the radio and get a fair idea of what the record's about. You couldn't do that with 'Selling England By The Pound'.”
As Genesis were about to embark on their daunting six-month tour to promote 'The Lamb', Peter Gabriel, all too aware of the accusations of pretentiousness often levelled at the band, explained his confidence in the new album: “It gives a much wider spectrum than our past albums. On the right wing there are more conventional straight pop songs and on the left, more sound pictures. It's got the best the band has to offer, a comprehensive selection.” Tony Banks concurred: “People think we're more airy-fairy than Yes or ELP, you know, more fey because we don't sweat as much. I think this album will end all those comparisons entirely.”
For Peter Gabriel, setting the album in New York City was a deliberate decision: “It was a conscious setting because it was important that the main character, Rael, be earthy. It was necessary that he have certain blemishes on his character which were whole and identifiable when taken into a fantasy situation. What fascinated me about New York was the speed and aggression of the city. You see things close to you with tainted spectacles. You don't see things under your nose. But the setting is basically a device for making the character real, more extroverted and violent. Adolescents adjust by finding a slot. But Rael is slotless. He feels he's a waste of material - all he can do is give up or escape.” Phil Collins was less forthcoming about the new album's subject matter: “I don't know what it's about. I'm just the drummer. Ask Peter…”
Keen to reveal the band's plan for their new live presentation, Gabriel explained: “We still want to take the listener out of the concert hall and into the fantasy. Rock visuals have to go beyond serving the extended whims of superstars. The concerts should work more like a film. A film would make the story more comprehensible but we're working toward that with the three screens. Most people get onstage and act like they presume themselves to be. But if you're going to occupy a role, you have to discard previous roles and not simply adopt the standard rock pose, a bit like an actor really.”
Over the course of the two-hour long show, 3,000 slides were projected onto the three screens, timed meticulously to illustrate the lyrics of each song. It was certainly an ambitious and expensive undertaking for the band, and a show that demanded a lot from its audience because there was so much, musically and visually, to absorb. From the opening projected scenes of Manhattan, it was clear that this would be a significant departure from the 'Englishness' of their previous album, 'Selling England By The Pound'. This was a bolder, riskier and more aggressive Genesis.
Very much Gabriel's brainchild, the 'Lamb' show was a multi-media tour de force which elevated rock presentation to new heights and earned the band justifiable praise from critics and fans alike. But despite the overwhelming artistic success of the tour, Gabriel knew only too well that Genesis still had more than its fair share of detractors: “There are people who believe that the costumes, props and slides are crutches to hold up the crippled music. But you're cheating your audience if you don't allow them to hear the music with the full strength with which it was created. Visuals are rubbish unless they are integrated with the continuity of the music. You can't put layers of make-up on a beautiful face unless the features are there in the first place.”
In addition to allowing the individual band members the chance to display their developing musical prowess, the new show also afforded them the opportunity to indulge in lengthy improvisations at various points, unusual perhaps for a group who regarded themselves as songwriters first and musicians second, but surely indicative of their growing confidence as players. Tony Banks explained: “There are about six improvised sections but one, 'The Waiting Room', is about ten minutes long. Some nights it's great, some nights it's awful, which is nice, really, because it means there's a challenge to it.” This particular instrumental workout soon became one of the highlights of the show, a chance to see consummate musicians allowing themselves the freedom to play without restraint.
Like the album, the 'Lamb' tour has become the stuff of legend. While there are thankfully many excellent audio bootlegs (of which this lovingly remastered soundboard recording of the band's performance in Phoenix is one of the very best), very little film footage exists to document their incredible creative achievement. The details of the performances have been the subject of debate and speculation among fans for more than 30 years. The recent discovery of footage shot in Bern, Switzerland, in March 1975 has only served to fuel renewed interest in the album, especially combined with the current rumours that all five members of that line-up may reunite to re-stage 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' live.
To this day, 'The Lamb' remains the band's magnum opus and arguably the most controversial album of their 40-year career. Although no-one outside of the band knew it then, this masterwork would also mark the end of a truly classic era for Genesis. In 1975, at the end of the world tour, Peter Gabriel announced his decision to quit the band and, while Genesis would go on to greater popularity and worldwide success in the years that followed, the band would never again have quite the same mystery and magic.
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